Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Finished Foiled Pages

So while lettering these pages, I've realized something- your word balloons/text will actually change the black and white balance of a page.  Before lettering these pages, I was satisfied with the black and white balance, but lettering the pages has actually made them too busy in my opinion!  Besides thickening the bubbles and handlettering it to introduce more variety of shape, what do you guys do to fix this sort of problem?

Anyway, I'm not that disappointed by the effect, it's just something to keep in mind for the future.  Next time, I'll definitely plan out my speech bubbles better, they tend to overtake the panel.  I actually cut out a lot of text, I guess I'm just naturally a chatty girl.

These are due for Studio II tomorrow.  I was going to do the lettering tutorial tonight, but I think I'll do that tomorrow, probably on a different piece.

Unlettered Foiled Pages

Going to be posting a lot tonight, bear with me please.  I'll be doing a digital lettering/word balloons tutorial, walking you guys through a better method for increasing the black and white contrast, and posting my finished, lettered pages tonight.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Keep on Truckin, my fellow Nattosoups

Growing up, I liked to dabble.  I had dozens of hobbies, plenty of interests.  I couldn't read just one book at a time, I had to read six.  I sewed four different projects at one time, wrote three different stories, I had to have my finger in several different pots.  I had trouble focusing, but that was fine, because I was exploring. 

The problem was, I didn't really stick with anything long enough to become good at it.  It was just for fun, so when the project was over, my interest waned.  I played several different instruments, but didnt care enough about ANY of them to become really good.  I had trouble applying myself, but could coast because I was intelligent. 

This is fine when you're a highschool kid.  It's awful when you're an adult.

As an adult, when something doesnt pan out right away, you have to make a decision.  Do you want to keep at it, either as a hobby or professionally, or is it time to throw in the towel and pick something safer?  Comics isn't the sort of industry where you get rich quick, heck, it isnt the sort of industry where you get rich at all.  I think most of us go into the field knowing this.  When I decided to apply to SCAD, I knew there was a fair chance that it'd be a losing gamble, that I'd end up teaching art in my podunk hometown, and that my fancy dancy art school edumacation would be wasted on kids who'd rather play cards than learn the ins and outs of the human figure.  It was a gamble I had to take.

As with anything in art, sometimes you have to take risks that make you gasp.  Sometimes you have to step out onto that tightwire knowing there isnt a net to catch you.  SCAD was such a step for me, and I've been pushing myself to keep walking, no matter how I wobble.  My art isn't the most popular in the class, I don't get the accolades my classmates get, but I keep pushing because I WANT IT.  I go to cons where I lose money, where my face hurts from smiling so much when I want to cry, and I spend late nights working because I refuse to give up.  I will not go down. 

Sometimes it feels like it's never going to get better.  I feel like I'll just keep wasting my money, my time, my youth chasing after a dream that isnt meant to be.  And then I'll realize there's an avenue I haven't tried.  And I feel hope.

You won't get anywhere if you give up too early.  You won't improve, you wont impress anyone, no one will admire your spirit if you just lay down and die.  I can't respect myself if I don't chase my dream.  I've had to earn every real human who follows me on Twitter through countless sketch posts, constantly talking about art and comics and process, chatting and supporting other artists.  I feel real satisfaction when someone I respect follows me back, and gratitude when someone I've yet to discover follows me first.  I try to show this when I prepare my Follow Friday recommendations.  I realized I could use my blog as a tool to help others as well as myself, so I've become more concientious about how I present my work.  It is no longer a 'LOOK AT ME!' but rather "This is how I did it, this is why it's important, this is what I use'. 

Write the blog you'd want to read.  Create the art you would enjoy.  Hold yourself to your own standards and stop comparing yourself to others.  Start that sketchblog NOW, keep a record of your work, solicite critiques, offer your help.  Think outside of comics.  Don't just add your friends on Twitter, seek out likeminded strangers and BOND.  Reach out and help people as much as you can.  Don't just make friends with people you can use, befriend people who need you and who you can respect.  Strive to be generous, but not a fool.

My goal now is to reach out and connect with other bloggers.  I'm naturally pretty shy, especially if I can't see the other person's reaction, so I have no idea how I come across on the internet.    I'm so horribly afraid of rejection that I've wasted valuable time that could have been spent making connections and friendships.  I have to get over that. 

I hope this isnt pretentious of me, but I'd geniuinely like to help you guys.  If you're interested in a critique, please let me know.  If there's a material I use that you'd like to know more about, ask me please.  If there's a technique I should cover but I've skipped over, tell me.  Let me be the big sister/mentor that I've always wanted to have.

So many artists act like it's easy.  They wear a brave face, smile, and demurely put you off when you ask how they're doing.  "Ohh fine," they'll smile, and wave you off.  It's not your business, you're just a customer, and nobody wants to admit that business is bad.  This facade makes life more discouraging for aspiring artists, because they don't yet know that your first few cons will probably be busts.  They assume that they're worthless right off the bat, and many of them just give up.  I want my blog to be different, even if it means admitting a few unflattering things.  If I can make things easier for someone starting out, then I've done my job as an educator, and my bad experiences were worth it.

Sorry to get personal with you guys, I've got some actual factual art posts in the works.  It's finals week for me, and I've got several things going at once, and no time to post about them really.  Week after next I have off, and I can't wait to share what I've been working on. 

Remi Reference

I've got some sketchtrades in the works, so I thought it'd be prudent to post some pictures of Remi.

She's 18, 5'0", likes fluffy dresses, wants to write romance novels for a living, babysits for pin money, has long wavy reddish brown hair.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Internet Tools: Google Reader

Its come to my attention that a lot of really intelligent people aren't familiar with the concept of feed readers.  I'd like to change that, if possible, just so you guys know how much easier they can make your internet life.

I am a big fan of RSS readers, particularly services such as Google reader that are integrated into my browsing experience.  I was introduced to RSS feeds as a way of following my favorite oft-updated websites a few years ago when I was still a Mac user, and I haven't looked back.  I realize that there are other sites such as Piperka that allow subscribers to follow their favorite webcomics, but with few exceptions, I find Google Reader better suited to my browsing habits.

Google reader is a free service, all you need is a Google account, which you can create using a variety of ways.  You don't even need a Gmail account to register.  Once you have your account, you can start adding feeds.  In the address bar of most browsers, there's a little orange button with radiating signal lines.  That's the feed button.  When you click it, there should be a few options.  Usually it's 'follow this feed', 'follow comments' and an option to allow you to follow it using Atom.

The screenshot is mine, the website is

I selected the RSS option.  The next page you'll see is:

From there you're going to select the dropdown to Google reader and click subscribe.

Go ahead and select Google Reader again.

This is what MY Google Reader looks like.  I've been collecting feeds for the past four or so years, so there's really a lot.  I am particularly interested in art feeds, webcomics, and fashion/style blogs, so that's mostly what's on my Google Reader, but you can use it for anything that interests you and is updated on a regular basis.  If you're interested in checking out what I follow, you can actually subscribe to my Google Reader Feed, and check it out.  This'll save you four years of internet hording, if you happen to have the exact same interests as I do.

My Reading List


1) Inspiration:  I'll often sketch as I read.

2) To keep up with what's going on

3) To organize my online reading

I find that following the work of other artists helps me improve at a faster rate.  Comparing myself negatively does nothing, but when I am able to look at art objectively, I can often see ways I can improve.    A positive outlook on your work is important to your growth as an artist.  You do not have to like everything you do, and becoming complacent and overly satisfied is bad, but you need to feel a sense of pride.  You work hard at what you do, and you need to respect your work and effort, even if no one else does right now.

I began following fashion blogs because my character Remi is a fairly stylish girl, and at the time, I was most definitely NOT stylish in the least.  I didn't have a clue about what looked good and what did not, and I knew I needed help.  Fashion blogs have made me more conscience (in a positive way) about how I look and how I dress, and now I take pleasure in my wardrobe.  So much pleasure, in fact, that I want to share it with you in the near future.  Anyway, if you're interested in doing comics, it really helps to know what REAL people wear.

Now for the pathetic part.  If you haven't done so already, please consider adding me to your feed reader.  I promise, this blog is only going to get better.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Header

I've finally gotten around to replacing my old banner, which makes me pretty happy, as it kept my blog design from coming together as a whole.  I'm going to have to tweak the color on the background of the blog itself a little bit for better cohesion, but other than that, I'm finally fairly satisfied with my blogs design.  It's sad that it's taken over a year to get to this point, though.  Next comes Twitter!

I realize that at this point, you could just scroll to the top and actually SEE my header, but I'm going to go ahead and insert it here, as well as the marker piece that's used in it.

Let's just claim its for posterity, ok?  And to legitimize making a post about it.
Graphic design is not my strong point, and while I'm researching it, I don't feel very confident in my tastes, so it always takes me a long time to come up with ideas that I feel have merit. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Web and Print Design

Lately I've been trying to do a little design work to bring some coherency to my blog, twitter, website, and business cards.  Even though I just ordered a new set of cards, I'm already thinking about what's going to be on the next set.  It takes me a really long time to do graphic design, so I'm glad I've already started generating ideas, especially since I want to generate new artwork to go on them.

Right now I'm trying to come up with a color palette that will work for all these things.  Using Adobe's Kuler, I can generate swatches with hex easily.  Here's what I'm looking at so far:

I'm going with spring greens and grey because it connotates  both 'fresh' and 'fashion forward' to me.  It works well for Ready Set Go because it the green references the bud in the comic's logo, and the green can be a reference to Remi, who is fresh out of highschool and still very 'green', while the grey can be a reference to Julia, who's motives are always questionable. 

I have swatches and some redesign notes for my business cards in my sketchbook.  I may edit this entry to add those in, just because I enjoy sharing my work process with you.


Here's three new potential palettes I've come up with after reading The Well Dressed Home by Anette Tatum.  I realized that the greens and greys on their own were a bit limited and boring, and wouldnt allow enough wiggle room to design for Foiled as well as Ready Set Go, so I've added in scarlet and orange.

I like the bottom theme best, but I'm not sure if that orange should be more red.  Thoughts?

Link Share

If you guys don't already read the Jetpens blog, you really should.  I get the majority of my comic supplies via Jetpens (especially the blue leads), and I am always pleased with their service.  Their blog is fantastic, it offers plenty of reviews and comparisons of their products, at a level of thoroughness that I simply can't afford.  I found a few reviews/overviews to be particularly useful/insightful, and thought it'd be neat to share with you guys.

A World of White Pens-A Comparison of Different White Ink Pens:  I think I've found a new gel pen to replace my current one.  The UniBall Signo gives such a rich white.  I had a silver Signo years and years ago when gelpens were popular (middle school), and I had some very fond memories of scrawling 8th grade love notes with it.  I look forward to using the white to correct my comics now.

How A Drafting Pencil Works:  So many of us use em, and when you invest in a really nice one, you oughta know how it works so you can fix it.

From Sushi to Precision- A Look at Different Eraser Styles:  I do think those sushi erasers are adorable but I am tough on my erasers, and so, I save my money for the huge Mono monsters.  I am a big fan of precision erasers though.

What I particularly like about their site is that they offer reviews AND videos of the product in action.  Pretty great if you ask me. 

Another blog I'd like to recommend if you're serious about your comic tools is The Pen Addict.   There are plenty of product reviews and he provides examples of the pen quality.  Not everything he reviews is really suitable for comics, but if you're a tool nerd like I am, you'll definitely find it interesting.

Do you have any tool or technique blogs that you enjoy reading?  Please share them with me!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pre Matriculation SEQA Grad Student Recommended Media

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Solanin-By Inio Asano

I'm going to limit how much manga I recommend on this list because I realize that there's a fair amount of comic artists and enthusiasts who claim to outright hate it.  However, Solanin is a well told, sensitive story with beautiful artwork that manages to surpass many of the tropes that plague most manga.  Even if you dislike manga, if you plan on entering SEQA at the grad level, you should be familiar with a few titles and artists, just as those who dislike mainstream should be familiar with mainstream work.

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Three Shadows- Cyril Pedrosa-  Beautiful brushwork, a story well told, and a fantastic cartoony style.  If your roots are in manga and you are looking to branch out, Three Shadows is a fantastic start.

Image via Amazon

Fun Home- Alison Bechdel-  Autobio has long been a staple of the indie comic genre.  While it may not appeal to everyone, everyone should be familiar with one or two autobio works.   An extensive reading list makes it easier to converse intelligently in class.

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Blacksad-Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnid-  Before you swear away from anthro, at least give Blacksad a shot.  Its an excellent example of anthro done right.  Gritty, dark, and moody, you'll probably finish Blacksad in one sitting, and then read it again to catch everything you've missed.

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Akira-Katsuhiro Otomo- The only other manga on my list, Akira is themematically the opposite of Solanin, but shares many graphic traits.  Akira may be too graphic for some reader's tastes, but few can argue that Otomo is a master draftsman who created an engrossing world.

Image via Wikipedia

Blankets- Craig Thompson- Another autobio comic that everyone seems to have read while in highschool.  Craig Thompson's work has been highly influential to other comic artists, and while this tome is heavy, you can get through it in an afternoon.

Image via Amazon

Acme Novelty Library- Chris Ware-  You should at least be familiar with Chris Ware's stuff.  The Acme Novelty Library is a large book, not really intended for tucking under the arm and reading on the go, but you should be able to find it at the Jenn Libary.

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Persepolis-Marjane Satrapi- I really enjoy learning about other cultures, and found Persepolis, set in pre and post Islamic Revolution Iran to be engrossing.  Marjane Satrapi's art may be described as 'naive', but it is effective in conveying the story.

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Maus I & II- Art Spiegelman-  Many of my classmates at the grad level insist that this was required reading for them in highschool.  I was not so lucky.  My first exposure to Maus was after I'd graduated undergrad, in that busy summer before starting grad school.  Maus is both an unpleasant and pleasant read.  I've always had a fascination with the Holocaust, as a child, I devoured survivor memoirs.  Maus appealed to me in that regard.  However, the subject matter, even when veneered with mice, cats, pigs, and dogs, is much less pleasant.

Image via Amazon

Asterios Polyp- David Mazzucchelli-  Beautiful caricature, bold use of color, and an engaging story.

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Scott Pilgrim Series- Bryan Lee O'Malley-  I admit it, I hate this series with a burning passion.  The art is fine.  The writing, I suppose, is fine.  The characters remind me of everyone I hated in highschool.  I realize this was done on purpose.  That doesn't change my dislike of the books. Everyone has read this book, so it's a bit strange to recommend it, but if you're one of the few who aren't familiar with Scott Pilgrim, consider changing that now.

More topical comic treats:

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Anya's Ghost-Vera Brosgol- Released in 2011, so people are actually still actively reading this comic.  There's a bit of a trend with me recommending books with a cartoony style, and Anya's Ghost is no different.  An engaging story and well illustrated.

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Koko Be Good-Jen Wang-  I'm kinda tired of constantly writing 'beautiful art' or 'nice illustration' or what have you.  From now on, unless I say otherwise, it's safe to assume any graphic novel/comic/strip/whathaveyou is well drawn.  I personally think there are some problems with this book, but I still think you should read it for yourself, especially since it was recently released and is still quite popular as conversation fodder.

General  Art Instruction:

Andrew Loomis Books (available in PDF form here:)-  I haven't had a drawing instructor yet who hasn't advised 'READ LOOMIS!'.  Honestly, I prefer Glen Vilppu's Drawing Manual for anatomy over Figure Drawing for All It's Worth, but you should read both if you can.
The Famous Artists Course and Famous Artists Cartoon Course Library (Try Scribd)
The Vilppu Drawing Manual
Perspective for Comic Book Artists

Books ABOUT Comics/Craft:
A Comics Studies Reader
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures
Drawn To Life Vol 1 and 2
Reading Comics


Any recommendations for what SHOULD be on this list?  Drop me a comment and tell me about it!